The Cookbook Challenge: Week 5 Greek Recipe: Moussaka

by April@MyFoodTrail on December 19, 2009

in Cookbook Challenge 2010, Cooking, Lamb, Mains, Recipes

Theme: Greek
Cookbook: The Australian Women’s Weekly Cook

I got together with a few other Cookbook Challengers, Arale 79, Kat and Agnes, for a Greek cooking feast for this week’s theme. Greek is a cuisine I don’t have often, though I don’t mind it. I never cook Greek food at home and as a result, have never bought any Greek cookbooks so I went searching through my other cookbooks to find a suitable recipe. I turned to the Australian Women’s Weekly Cook cookbook first because the AWW recipes seem to always work out and taste pretty good.

Moussaka is a well known Greek dish, but I have only tried it once at a Greek restaurant and didn’t think much of it. I have recently taken to eating eggplant so I decided to try making moussaka myself. Moussaka is similar to the Italian lasagne, except that it uses sliced eggplants as the lasagne sheets and lamb mince for the filling.

I underestimated the time to make this dish – cutting and frying up the eggplants took a long time! I found several different recipes for moussaka and some said you didn’t need to cook the eggplants first and others called for grilling the eggplant. Though it may seem tedious, try not to skip the step of salting the eggplants and frying them. I think it makes a difference!

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Moussaka

Ingredients
2 large eggplants (approx. 1kg), sliced thinly
Salt (for eggplants)
Oil for frying
1 large brown onion (approx. 200g), chopped finely
2 cloves garlic, chopped finely
1kg lamb mince
425g crushed tomatoes – I used whole peeled tomatoes but smashed them up
½ cup (125ml) dry white wine
½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ cup (40g) finely grated parmesan (or however much you want!)

Method
1. Remove top and skin (optional) from eggplant and thinly slice.

2. Sprinkle eggplant all over with salt and place in colander. Stand for 30 minutes then rinse with cold water and drain.

3. Pat eggplant dry with absorbent paper. Heat oil in a large frypan and cook eggplant, in batches, for a couple of minutes until browned on both sides. Drain on absorbent paper.

Eggplant after cooking

4. Cook onion and garlic until onion softens.

5. Add lamb mince and cook until lamb changes colour.

6. Stir in undrained tomatoes, wine and cinnamon and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, simmer uncovered for about 30 minutes or until liquid has evaporated. I skimmed the excess oil from the mixture at this point.

Lamb mixture after adding all ingredients – all liquid eventually evaporated

7. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 180C (160C fan forced). Oil at least a 2.6L baking dish.

8. Make white sauce (see below).

9. Place a third of eggplant at the bottom of the dish, overlapping slices slightly. Spread half the meat sauce over the eggplant. Repeat layering, finishing with a layer of eggplant. Spread white sauce over top and sprinkle with parmesan.

Assembled & ready for the oven

10. Cook, uncovered, about 40 minutes or until top browns lightly. I only needed about 25 minutes.

Just out of the oven

11. Cover moussaka and stand 10 minutes before serving. I missed this step (we were hungry!) and it was a bit runny to scoop out of the baking dish.

White sauce
80g butter
1/3 cup (50g) plain flour
2 cups (500ml) hot milk

Method
1. Melt butter in a medium saucepan.
2. Add flour and keep stirring (or whisking) until mixture thickens and bubbles.
3. Gradually add milk, constantly stirring (or whisking) after each addition until mixture boils and thickens.

Results: Hubby and I enjoyed this dish a lot more than we were expecting! The other girls liked it too (or maybe they were just being nice because I made it!) The lamb was flavoursome and the eggplants were so soft. The béchamel white sauce gave the moussaka a lovely creaminess. The cinnamon was a bit overbearing with the first bite, but I soon got used to it.

Would I make it again? Yes, though I would allow more time for preparation!

Over & Out, Rilsta xx

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{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

Kat (Spatula, Spoon and Saturday) December 19, 2009 at 11:42 pm

no, it was really yummy. i got home and i felt like more moussaka for dinner! it was great. thanks for lunch!

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Agnes December 20, 2009 at 12:11 am

Hehee, we weren't being nice – it was yum!

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Conor @ HoldtheBeef December 20, 2009 at 12:30 am

The overbearingness of the cinnamon is similar in the Moroccan dish Pastilla, but yes you get used to it (to a point, and then it all becomes a bit too much if you're a piggy!).

Looks tasty 🙂

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What's For Tea? December 20, 2009 at 10:52 am

Yum! Definitely worth salting and cooking the eggplant beforehand, yours looks delicious!

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Esz December 20, 2009 at 11:01 am

I've never had moussaka before so I might try this recipe. Looks really yummy 😀

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Sarah December 20, 2009 at 8:31 pm

Mmm… looks great. Eggplants and white sauce and meat sauce – always a winner!

xox Sarah

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Ange December 21, 2009 at 7:46 am

mmmm, I love moussake, looks delicious, in fact I love anything Greek, going to Hellenic Republic again for dinner xmas eve for my mums birthday & think I will finally have to try George's & if it's any good I will try making that one, maybe I can even make it fit a theme week

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Maria@TheGourmetChallenge December 21, 2009 at 9:50 am

who doesnt love moussaka!?! It has eggplant in it! I make mine with really thin slices of potato as well. But I love the addition of the white sauce ontop!

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SK December 21, 2009 at 10:44 am

That looks good. Is it anything like lasagna?

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Adrian @ Food Rehab December 21, 2009 at 12:43 pm

mmm, I could taste the creamy sauce already. Break me off a piece of dat!

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Rilsta December 21, 2009 at 12:45 pm

Hi Kat: Glad you enjoyed it!

Hi Agnes: Thanks! 🙂

Hi Conor: I had the leftovers for lunch the next day and the cinnamon flavour is not as strong the next day!

Hi Anthea: Thanks! 🙂

Hi Esz: Do give it a try – it tastes great!

Hi Sarah: Yes I know! Great combination!

Hi Ange: Ooh, lucky you! Hope you enjoy the dinner!

Hi Maria: I saw a recipe with the thinly slied potato. I should try that next time!

Hi SK: It looks like lasagna and sort of tastes like lasagna because of the meat sauce and cheese, but it has eggplants instead of the pasta sheet and the cinnamon gives it a different flavour.

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Rilsta December 21, 2009 at 12:45 pm

Hi Adrian: The creamy sauce was GOOD! 🙂

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Iron Chef Shellie December 21, 2009 at 1:21 pm

yay moooooousaka too =)
I love the photos from the side of the dish. Looks goood.
x

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Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella December 21, 2009 at 9:48 pm

It looks gorgeous and I have heard that it is time consuming but yours looks really delicious! 😀

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Cherrie Pie December 21, 2009 at 10:05 pm

oh.my.gosh. that dish looked so good. I love moussaka. Made me hungry.

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penny aka jeroxie December 21, 2009 at 10:11 pm

That looks great! Does not matter if it took longer than usual. Just as long it tastes delicious and I bet it did.

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bri December 22, 2009 at 10:05 am

Moussaka isn't something that usually appeals to me, but yours looks so good that I am tempted to give it a shot!

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imasugarjunkie December 23, 2009 at 10:24 am

Looks so yum! Greek food is certainly made to be shared isnt it!

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Ellie December 27, 2009 at 10:26 am

Lovely Moussaka! This is the ultimate comfort food for me. Love the layer display in your glass tray 🙂

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Rilsta January 4, 2010 at 3:09 pm

Hi Shellie: Yay moussaka twins! 😛

Hi Lorraine: Thanks! It takes a while, but is very worth it in the end!

Hi Cherrie: Thanks!! 🙂

Hi Penny: Thanks, it was very delicious!

Hi Bri: I didn't think I would like moussaka either, but this recipe is great! Let me know how you go!

Hi imasugarjunkie: This made quite a lot so I was glad I had people to share it with or else I'm sure I would have eaten most of it myself! 😛

Hi Ellie: Thanks! Glass trays are great for seeing the good stuff inside! 🙂

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